When you’re the proud new owner of a house, one of the first things on your to-do list should be changing the locks. This crucial step ensures your home is secure, granting you peace of mind. The question that arises is, “What’s the cheapest way to do this without compromising safety?”
Why Should You Consider Changing Your Locks?
As a new homeowner, you might be blissfully unaware of who else has keys to your property. There could be previous tenants, maintenance workers, or even friends of the former owner with access. Therefore, changing the locks is a non-negotiable step in securing your property and ensuring your family’s safety.
Rekeying Versus Replacing Locks: What’s Cheaper?
Rekeying Your Locks: An Economical Choice
Rekeying locks involves changing the internal components of your existing lock so that a new key can operate it. This is usually the cheaper route compared to a full lock replacement. You can expect to pay around $75 to $150 for a professional locksmith to rekey your entire house.
If you’re comfortable with some DIY, you can buy a rekey kit for about $15-30 from online retailers like Amazon or eBay, making this option even more affordable. There are also plenty of YouTube tutorials available that can guide you through the process.
Replacing Your Locks: A More Expensive Option
Replacing locks involves removing your old lock and installing a new one. The cost here will depend on the type of lock you choose, the complexity of the installation, and labor if you choose to use a locksmith. A good quality door knob from a home store will cost you around $28-40. The total cost could go up if you’re dealing with multiple locks.
How to Choose Between Rekeying and Replacing Locks?
The decision to rekey or replace will depend on a few factors.
- Cost and Convenience: If you’re simply looking to secure your home quickly and cheaply, rekeying is your best bet.
- Lock Quality and Aesthetics: If your existing locks are old, worn-out, or you want a different style or finish, replacing the locks is a wise choice.
Handy Tips to Change Locks Cost-effectively
- Do Your Research: Compare prices of local locksmiths, home improvement stores, and online retailers. Consider the cost of labor, convenience, and the quality of locks you desire.
- DIY if You Can: If you’re comfortable with tools, consider doing it yourself. Whether it’s rekeying or replacing locks, there are plenty of resources online to guide you.
- Bulk Buying: If you decide to replace the locks, buying in bulk could save you some money. Look for bundle deals or multi-packs.
- Consider Smart Locks: While the initial cost might be higher, smart locks provide high-level security, convenience, and keyless entry, which could save you money in the long run.
In conclusion, securing your new home doesn’t have to be an expensive affair. Whether you choose to rekey or replace your locks, your priority should be ensuring the security and safety of your home and loved ones. After all, peace of mind is priceless.
Frequently Asked Questions about Changing Locks on a New House
Q1: Is It Possible to Change House Locks Myself?
A: Absolutely, it’s possible to change your house locks yourself, provided you have a basic understanding of DIY tasks. Both rekeying and replacing locks can be done without professional assistance, although the latter might be slightly more complex. There are many resources available, such as YouTube tutorials and step-by-step guides, to help you through the process. However, if you’re unsure or not comfortable performing these tasks, hiring a professional locksmith is recommended.
Q2: How Much Does It Cost to Change a Set of Locks?
A: The cost to change a set of locks varies significantly depending on several factors, including the type of locks, the number of locks, and whether you choose to do it yourself or hire a locksmith. On average, for professional service, you might pay anywhere from $75 to $200 for rekeying and slightly more for replacing locks. If you’re a DIY enthusiast, the cost can be as low as $15-$30 for a rekeying kit or $28-$40 per lock for replacement.
Q3: Is Changing Locks on a New House Always Necessary?
A: While it’s not legally mandatory, changing the locks on a new house is a highly recommended security measure. It’s impossible to know who else might have keys to your home. By changing the locks or rekeying, you ensure you’re the only one with access, significantly enhancing your home’s security.
Q4: Is Rekeying Better Than Changing Locks?
A: The choice between rekeying and changing locks depends on your specific needs. Rekeying is generally cheaper and faster, making it a great option if your locks are in good condition, and you simply want to ensure no one else has access. On the other hand, if your locks are old, worn out, or you want to upgrade to more secure or aesthetically pleasing locks, changing them would be a better option.
Q5: Can All Types of Locks be Rekeyed?
A: Most types of locks can be rekeyed, but there are exceptions. Some locks, particularly older or more complex ones, may not be rekeyable. Additionally, some modern lock designs, like smart locks, use different technologies that don’t require traditional rekeying. Before deciding to rekey your locks, it’s essential to understand what type of locks you have and if they can be rekeyed.
Q6: Is It Cheaper to Rekey or Replace Locks?
A: Generally, it is cheaper to rekey locks than to replace them. Rekeying involves altering the existing lock’s internal mechanism to accept a new key, which is typically less labor-intensive and requires fewer materials than a full lock replacement. However, the exact cost difference will depend on the specifics of your situation, such as the type of locks and whether you plan to do the work yourself or hire a professional.
Q7: Can I Rekey a Lock to Fit an Existing Key?
A: Yes, this is entirely possible. A locksmith can rekey your locks to match an existing key, assuming the key is compatible with the lock. This can be a convenient option if you want all the locks in your house to operate with a single key. However, remember that this won’t enhance your lock’s security level; it’s more about convenience.
Q8: What is the Process of Rekeying a Lock?
A: Rekeying involves changing the internal configuration of a lock so it works with a different key. The process entails removing the lock cylinder, replacing the old pins with new ones that correspond to a new key’s cut. Rekeying does not affect the lock’s external appearance or its security level, assuming the lock itself is not compromised.
Q9: Are There Locks That Allow Self-Rekeying?
A: Yes, there are locks available on the market that offer a self-rekeying feature. These locks, such as the Kwikset SmartKey and Schlage SecureKey, allow homeowners to rekey their locks without needing to disassemble the lock cylinder or hire a locksmith. These lock sets come with a special tool and instructions to complete the rekeying process.
Q10: How Long Does it Take to Rekey a Lock?
A: The time it takes to rekey a lock can depend on several factors. If you’re doing it yourself and have never done it before, it might take an hour or more per lock as you learn the process. A professional locksmith, on the other hand, can usually rekey a lock in 10 to 15 minutes, provided there are no complications.
Q11: How Often Should I Rekey My Locks?
A: The frequency of rekeying your locks largely depends on your personal circumstances. If you lose your keys often or have recently experienced a burglary, it’s advisable to rekey your locks. Additionally, moving into a new home, ending a relationship with someone who had a key, or if a key has been stolen, are all valid reasons to consider rekeying.
Q12: What are the Advantages of Rekeying Instead of Replacing Locks?
A: There are several advantages to rekeying locks instead of replacing them. Rekeying is generally cheaper and quicker, as it involves less labor and materials. It’s also less wasteful, as you’re reusing your existing hardware instead of throwing it away. Additionally, rekeying allows you to keep your existing locks if you like their design or they’re part of an integrated security system. Lastly, rekeying all your locks to work with a single key can be a significant convenience.
Q13: Are There Any Risks Associated With Rekeying My Own Locks?
A: If you choose to rekey your own locks, you need to be aware of a few risks. Improper rekeying can lead to locks that don’t function correctly, leaving your home less secure. There’s also the risk of losing small parts during the process, which could render your lock unusable. Additionally, if you’re not comfortable with small, detailed work, you might find the process frustrating or difficult. If any of these risks concern you, hiring a professional locksmith might be a better option.
Q14: What is the Cost of Rekeying a Lock by Myself?
A: The cost of rekeying a lock yourself mainly depends on the cost of the rekeying kit, which typically ranges from $10 to $30. Kits usually include tools and pins for one lock, and you might need more kits for additional locks. Also, remember that while you save money, you’re investing your time, which might be considerable if you’re new to this process.
Q15: How Does a Locksmith Rekey a Lock?
A: A professional locksmith will first remove the lock from the door and disassemble it to expose the lock cylinder. They will then remove the cylinder plug and change the old pins to new ones that correspond to a new key. After that, they reassemble the lock and test it with the new key to ensure it functions correctly.
Q16: Can Any Lock be Rekeyed?
A: Most, but not all, locks can be rekeyed. The ability to rekey a lock depends on its design. Some high-security locks, for instance, may have patented key control systems that prevent rekeying by anyone other than authorized dealers or locksmiths. If you’re unsure whether your lock can be rekeyed, it’s best to consult with a professional locksmith.
Q17: How Can I Identify a Reliable Locksmith?
A: When selecting a locksmith, ensure they are licensed and insured. You can check their online reviews or ratings through the Better Business Bureau or other online platforms. Also, a reliable locksmith should be able to provide an upfront estimate for their services. It’s often best to choose local locksmiths who have a physical storefront and a strong reputation in the community.
Q18: How Do I Maintain My Locks After Rekeying?
A: Proper maintenance can prolong the lifespan of your locks. Regularly clean your locks with a damp cloth and avoid using chemical cleaners. Lubricate your locks at least once a year with a graphite or silicone-based lubricant. Lastly, always use the correct keys, and avoid using force, which can damage your locks over time.
Q19: Is it Possible to Rekey a Lock to Match an Existing Key?
A: Yes, if you have a key that fits a lock and you want other locks to match this key, a locksmith can usually do this. They will rekey the other locks to match the key’s cut pattern. This way, you can operate multiple locks using a single key, which can be a significant convenience.
Q20: Can Digital or Electronic Locks be Rekeyed?
A: Digital or electronic locks don’t use traditional keys, so the concept of rekeying doesn’t apply. However, you can change the access codes or delete electronic keys, which is somewhat similar to rekeying a mechanical lock. The process varies based on the lock model, so refer to your owner’s manual or contact the manufacturer for specific instructions.